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Making New Fabric from Fabric Scraps

Making New Fabric from Fabric Scraps post image

You know what the most stressful thing about quilting is for me? Fabric scraps.

It’s not just the piles of scraps I have to clean up and sort through after every new project. It’s not just the ever-growing bags of scraps taking up space around the quilting room. It’s the fact that when I decide to make something new that will use up scraps, like these string blocks I just made from my Red scrap bag:
String Quilt Blocks Red…even then, the scrap bag never seems to empty out. Not only that, making the blocks creates a NEW pile of teeny tiny scraps that I really don’t know what to do with.Tiny Red Fabric ScrapsI hate to part with even those tiny scraps, because I’m very much aware of how much I paid for that fabric in the first place. Getting rid of little bits and pieces feels like throwing bags of gold out the front door. So I feel pressured to do something productive with them. But what?

Yesterday I decided to try a couple of approaches I hadn’t tried before. After making a pile of string blocks from the longer strips, I made a pile of improvised Log Cabin Courthouse Steps blocks with the shorter strips, squares, and rectangles. They haven’t been trimmed, and some of them still need to be enlarged with more scraps, but here’s what some of my favorites look like at the moment:

Improvised Quilt Block 4

Improvised Quilt Block 3

Improvised quilt Block 2

Improvised Quilt Block 1

That was better! I felt much more productive and less wasteful after making them. And maybe my scrap bag was looking a little emptier.

But…  I still had this mound of little triangles and odd pieces. I decided to make a new red fabric out of them. I took a block of the old sheet fabric I use for string quilt foundations, put on a layer of Pellon Wonder-Web, an ultra-light fusible glue designed to layer between two pieces of fabric, and then arranged my scraps on top.

I used my iron to fuse the scraps to the foundation, then free-motion stitched the whole block to tack down the edges and points. The results look like this:

Scrap Quilt Block 3

Scrap Block

Scrap Block 2I learned a few things by making these experimental fabric pieces. One is that my foundations made from an old sheet were a bit heavy for this purpose. After fusing and stitching, the fabric is stiffer than I’d like it to be. Next time, I’ll try something thinner, or just use a piece of thin woven fusible stabilizer for the foundation. I also used a variegated red-and-white thread for the stitching, but for future attempts I’ll look for something that blends in a little more and doesn’t show off my rusty free-motion technique quite so starkly.

All in all, though, I’m very pleased. More fabric!


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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Celtic Thistle January 9, 2013, 2:14 pm

    Those scraps do seem to multiply don’t they? I like your idea of fusing the fabric and stitching over, what will you do with the blocks in the end?

    Dropping in from Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday

    • Christine Mann January 9, 2013, 2:36 pm

      I have no idea! I’m waiting for inspiration to strike. The edges of the scraps are a bit raggedy, in spite of all the stitching, so I’m not sure how well they would wash and wear. I think for my next attempt I may use a layer of tulle to even out the edges of all the tiny scraps.

      • Celtic Thistle January 10, 2013, 3:16 am

        I have seen cute evening bags made with a similar technique using sweet wrappers! Now there is a thought 🙂

        • Christine Mann January 10, 2013, 9:51 am

          Yes, I did think about that, because the “fabric” I made is stiffer and has more weight than typical quilting fabric. That’s another reason why I want to try adding a layer of tulle, so the little tails and edges from the scraps aren’t so exposed to wear. I’ll keep you posted.

  • Chris January 9, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Love all the reds!!

    • Christine Mann January 9, 2013, 5:00 pm

      Thanks! I’m usually a bit late for the season, but this year I’m getting an early start on Valentine’s day.

  • Sue January 10, 2013, 5:17 am

    The scraps are such a dilemma, aren’t they? I love what you did with yours. Paper piecing generates loads of odd-shaped scraps for me.

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